SAMOHI — There are few proving grounds like the playoffs.
Santa Monica High School’s baseball team, co-champs of the Ocean League, open the postseason today at Quartz Hill (17-9 overall, 13-1 in Golden League play), giving their ace hurler Alonzo Gonzalez the ultimate opportunity to prove that his co-league most valuable player award was no fluke.
The senior is slated to take the hill against a team that Samohi Head Coach Sheldon Philip-Guide said has the potential to score runs in bunches. The game is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
“We hope to keep it a low-scoring game,” Philip-Guide said. “A lot of the games that have been shoot-outs, they won.”
With the Samohi Vikings’ top pitcher on the mound, he likes his team’s chances of advancing to the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
“If we keep it close,” Philip-Guide said, “we have a good chance.”
If Gonzalez needs help from the bullpen, Philip-Guide said, he’ll look to relievers Ethan Corn and Andrew Montanari to put out any fires.
If the past 10 games are any indicators, Samohi seems to have the goods to oust Quartz Hill from the playoffs. He attributes the team’s strong showing in the Ocean League (8-2) to the fact that his team has finally “bought into” his style of baseball — and seem to have a good time doing it.
“It is helpful because I think the kids are starting to play well together,” the first-year coach said. “They are starting to enjoy playing together.”
The Vikings began the season slowly, losing its first four games. But, the team evened themselves out and entered the league portion of their schedule playing .500 ball.
At that point, the light bulb switched on.
The Vikings went on to outscore league opponents, 100-25, a sign that the team heeded their coach’s pleas to be patient at the plate.
“Hopefully, we can translate that into the playoffs,” Philip-Guide said.